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By Geoff Metcalf

May 13, 2004

"There is no type of human endeavor where it is so important that the leader understands all phases of his job as that of the profession of arms." - Major General James Fry

I am seething over the horrific prison flap at Abu Ghraib prison.but not for the reasons most have delineated their outrage.

President Bush has tried in vain to chill worldwide outrage over the reported abuses saying the demonstrated brain flatulence was the "wrongdoing of a few." And he is right. But it doesn't matter. Donald Rumsfeld apologized but as one Iraqi noted "Apology is not enough."

I'm still seething about the command breakdown and lousy leadership demonstrated in the prison mess. I hope they nail high ranking and mid level leaders who failed so epically in their responsibly.

I have speculated that just as the 'Code of Conduct' was a product of Korea, we may end up with a new 'Common Sense Creed' in the wake of this excrement storm.

Frankly despite the grossly inappropriate and unprofessional conduct being reported, the humiliation of the prisoners compares to a pee hole in a Montana snow bank when measured against the harm done to our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who have, and continue to, conduct themselves honorably.

  • The massed Arab anger is sound and fury signifying NOTHING.
  • They hated us BEFORE the revelations.they will hate us regardless of what we do to mitigate abuse.
  • Jordan recently averted a major terrorist attack that reportedly would have killed over 80,000. They did so my extracting information from prisoners. I guarandamntee the Jordanians employed interrogation tactics far more draconian than the sophomoric hazing that some idiot condoned and subordinate idiots implemented.
  • The Pentagon had reportedly authorized "some harsh interrogation steps."
  • According to DoD's classified list of techniques for use at Gitmo,
  • Interrogating prisoners who were required to strip naked was acceptable.
  • Reversing normal sleep patterns was routine.
  • Exposure to heat and cold and 'sensory assault' was acceptable.
  • Despite all the itching and moaning about 'Geneva Convention' protections, the Pentagon had specifically EXEMPTED terrorist suspects.
  • The Wall Street Journal noted, "The Pentagon has avoided formal Geneva Convention status because it doesn't want al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners to be able to hide behind 'name, rank and serial number.'

A well respected defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Anthony Cordesman, hit the nail on the head regarding the real problem: 'Those Americans who mistreated the prisoners may not have realized it, but they acted in the direct interests of al-Qaeda, the insurgents, and the enemies of the U.S.,'.The reason is that they came at a point when U.S. standing in the Arab world was already at an all-time low. These negative images validate all other negative images and interact with them. In other words, they function as a multiplier by providing photographic 'proof' of the demonic picture of the U.S. painted by anti-American propagandists."

It doesn't matter to the nattering nabobs that 'a soldier' reported the abuse. It doesn't matter that when learning of alleged abuse, 'the military ' immediately launched an investigation.

The premature 'leak' to CBS poured gasoline on a fire that was already being fought.not covered up.

In the wake of the Korean War (which still hasn't ended by the way), we felt compelled to create 'THE CODE OF CONDUCT.'

Article VI states, "I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America."

Leaders are responsible for the "welfare, discipline and tactical deployment" of their troops. That is basic FM22-100 stuff. It is axiomatic. Commanders are godlike. They don't work for higher ranking staff officers, or any non-military anybody. A commander has ONE boss: The commander of the next higher command. A Company commander (a Captain) is not responsible or accountable to a Battalion Major who outranks him. He is responsible to and accountable to the Lieutenant Colonel who is HIS commander.

ANY 'Commander', at any level, who is told they have responsibility for, but not authority over their troops and doesn't have the stones to confront a superior, does not deserve to command.

While politicians and pundits are waxing poetic over the prison flap, the military had best focus on basic leadership.

FM22-100 (Army Leadership) states, "1-22. Character describes a person's inner strength, the BE of BE, KNOW, DO. Your character helps you know what is right; more than that, it links that knowledge to action. Character gives you the courage to do what is right regardless of the circumstances or the consequences."

� 2004 Geoff Metcalf - All Rights Reserved

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"Geoff Metcalf is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host for TALK AMERICA and a veteran media performer. He has had an eclectic professional background covering a wide spectrum of radio, television, magazine, and newspapers. A former Green Beret and retired Army officer he is in great demand as a speaker. Visit Geoff's Web Site: While you're at it - pick up a copy of Geoff's latest book!  E-mail:







"I'm still seething about the command breakdown and lousy leadership demonstrated in the prison mess. I hope they nail high ranking and mid level leaders who failed so epically in their responsibly."